In my head I have long since departed all channels that I don't need to be in, and I only inhabit a few high-value, high signal-to-noise ratio ones. In reality, I have one day off and I'm snow-blinded by dozens of attention-seeking hashtags and red dots which results in a laborious routine of submissively channel-clicking and back-scrolling through history, desperately scanning for signs of value among a brain-frying array of links, mentions and updates. By the time I get to the end of it all I've forgotten most of it and bookmarked a few things which I will forget about and never return to until it's far too late. Even if I do remember, I will be unlikely to find those few nuggets of gold that I'm sure I came across because I can't quite make the search show me what I want. It's a context-switching nightmare. Is this progress? Is this effective collaboration and communication? Is this "work happening"? I recommend pressing Shift-Esc and moving on. If it's that important, someone will let you know.
The few channels I thought I was a member of turned out to be 157. At least I think so, because it's not something that Slack make particularly easy to find out. I guess highlighting this number to users might make them question the value Slack is adding to their day, and that question is probably not conducive to increasing weekly active users. I calculated it by browsing the channels then adding the Hide my channels filter if you wondered (972 channels – nearly 4 for every person!).
I've read a few books on the topic of Deep Work over the years which are interesting enough, but they can ultimately be summarised as something like: "turn off notifications and focus on one task for at least an hour or two". I even read recently about Deep Work as a Service. Concentration is now so hard to achieve it has been commoditised and outsourced to third parties to solve. This is dystopian stuff.
Unless we act this will only get worse. Relentless group chat updates, back-to-back meetings leaving no time to work on the actual meeting actions, 15 people gathering in a room without a solid purpose. We've all been there. Leaders and managers in business have a real responsibility to do their own 'deep work' and concentrate on understanding the long-term costs of working this way. And that means the cost to employees as well as to the bottom line.
Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely real value in these tools, it's just that it's suffocated by noise. To make progress, we all need to figure out how to suppress the noise in our workplaces and boost the signal.
When I first started working on Blogline (a fast, minimalist blogging platform), I had only planned to use it for my own blogs. Like most app developers (certainly those using Rails), I originally hosted it on Heroku, which has decent support for TLS if you're working with only a handful of known domains. Once I'd finished the early prototype, I decided it might be fun to turn it into a SaaS product that would allow customers to create a blog on their own domain in seconds. This didn't sound complicated technically – the main problem was how to manage TLS certificates.
Your inbox is probably a noisy place that you don't enjoy visiting. Am I right? I recently read the following tweet which motivated me to clear out my work inbox for 2021 (I only use Gmail for work).
psa: so i figured out how to avoid 90% of cold email in my inbox.— Julian Shapiro (@Julian) December 11, 2020
create a gmail filter that causes any email with the word "unsubscribe" to skip the inbox and be labeled as "To Review."
then batch review everything with that label twice a month.
how did i not do this sooner
You can do the same thing in Fastmail, Yahoo or whatever, but here’s how I did it in Gmail. If you’re using HEY this entire post is probably irrelevant!
Confusing vernacular isn’t a new thing to me, but I’ve noticed that an acronym population steadily increases as projects, or entire companies, expand. I can sort of understand. When a company is bigger, there are more people and more things going on. More projects, more meetings, more presentations. Typing “Engaged User Growth Hack” becomes tedious the 14th time you write it in your proposal, so someone initialises it (EUGH) the first time and uses the acronym there on in. Once the document is circulated, it’s inevitable that at some point – it might take a few meetings, but eventually – it becomes common parlance. "How is the EUGH rate looking this week, Ted?"
Whether you’re a new hire reviewing an onboarding guide on your first day, or a seasoned employee reading the latest project proposal, you’re probably going to be faced with a sea of acronyms. The more there are, the more confused you'll be. This is bad for morale and bad for business, so it's your job as a leader in an organisation to spare everyone from this misery by eliminating acronyms as much as possible in your organisation. Here are my top tips.
After a lot of hard work (not on my part really!) the academy became a reality in June 2015 with the official announcement of CodeClan as "the UK’s first dedicated accredited software skills academy". The first cohort of students started in September 2015!
As with all startup businesses, the journey has been a rollercoaster of highs as well as lows. Some of the hard times were particularly pronounced since CodeClan is a social enterprise and the course was being offered at less than cost (the difference being made up by the partner programme). Yet, despite these challenges, the company has not only survived, it has thrived and forged ahead even in the face of the most difficult business challenge of modern times – a global pandemic.
CodeClan is now operating across three sites (Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands & Islands) and they recently celebrated 1,000 graduates which is an incredible milestone. At FreeAgent we have hired six CodeClan graduates over the years, all of who are amazing (and are all still with us).
It's a remarkable achievement.
Five years on, it's time for me to step down from the CodeClan board. I've thoroughly enjoyed being a board member, it has been a brilliant, rewarding journey – a privilege, really – and I've learned a huge amount from the experience, from my board colleagues as well as Polly (CodeClan Chair), Melinda (CEO) and her excellent team.
Thank you to everyone for letting me be part of it all and I look forward to seeing where CodeClan goes next! 👋